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Tetrapod Zoology

Tetrapod Zoology

Amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals - living and extinct
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    Darren Naish Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at! Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.
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  • Spots, Stripes and Spreading Hooves in the Horses of the Ice Age

    Life appearance of Pleistocene horses of at least some populations of western Europe: reconstructed based predominanlty on Ekain horses from Spain. Image by Darren Naish.

    During the upper Palaeolithic (that is, between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago), prehistoric people in Europe and Asia (and elsewhere) depicted the animals they saw in thousands of piece of cave art. They drew, sculpted and painted rhinos, mammoths, giant deer and lions, but they also produced illustrations of less exotic beasts, like owls, mustelids [...]

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    Inside the Cassowary’s Casque

    Our montage depicting casque anatomy - see Naish & Perron (2014) for explanation. Note the big air space in the casque (visible in D) and the mass of trabeculae filling its anterior part (visible in B).

    I’m a big fan of palaeognaths – the terrestrial bird group that includes the mostly big, flightless ratites and the chicken-sized, flight-capable tinamous. Among the most interesting, most aberrant of palaeognaths are also among the most poorly known. I’m talking about the black-plumaged, elaborately adorned cassowaries of eastern Australia, New Guinea, and various of the [...]

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    Brian J. Ford’s Aquatic Dinosaurs Claim Holds No Water

    Numerous lines of anatomical, palaeoenvironmental, palaeoecological and isotopic data show that the gigantic Spinosaurus was aquatic. Image (c) Davide Bonadonna.

    Via bizarre and unexpected circumstances I recently* found myself secretly and furtively attending a lecture by Brian J. Ford. Ford is a British author and researcher who dabbles widely in matters of science and science communication. As readers interested in dinosaurs will know, Ford made something of a name for himself in the world of [...]

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    New Books on Dinosaurs 1: Matthew P. Martyniuk’s Beasts of Antiquity: Stem-Birds in the Solnhofen Limestone

    Cover of Martyniuk (2013), though note that the book is square, not portrait-format as this image of the cover implies.

    Recent months have seen the publication of several new dinosaur-themed books, and in this and several future articles I want to share brief thoughts on them. This article represents another effort to get through my backlog of books-needing-reviews. To work… Matthew P. Martyniuk’s Beasts of Antiquity: Stem-Birds in the Solnhofen Limestone is a new, fantastically [...]

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    Strange Bedfellow Frogs (Part 2): Pig-Nosed and Shovel-Nosed Frogs (aka Snout-Burrowers)

    Marbled snout-burrower (Hemisus marmoratus); image by Ryanvanhuyssteen, CC BY-SA 4.0

    A few weeks back – during the Tet Zoo frog event – I wrote about the peculiar African brevicipitid frogs, variously termed short-headed frogs or rain frogs. The plan when compiling that article was to write about a second group of frogs, closely related to brevicipitids. But time was short, the article became too long, [...]

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    Today marks NINE YEARS of Tetrapod Zoology

    Have you heard about the new tapir? Now available on merchandise...

    Yet again, it’s January 21st and, yet again, Tetrapod Zoology is another year old. As of today, Tet Zoo has been going for nine years. I’ve discovered that children (should you produce and raise them) are a good means by which you can plot the swift burning away of your short time on the planet*. [...]

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    A brief introduction to reed, sedge and lily frogs

    Hyperolius viridiflavus, photographed in the Democratic Republic of Congo by Nick Hobgood. Image CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Here’s a very brief article to a group of frogs. It’s a slightly modified version of an article that initially appeared on Tet Zoo ver 2 during November 2007. Reed, sedge and lily frogs, or hyperoliids, are a moderately large group (containing approximately 215 species) of mostly arboreal ranoids that climb in vegetation at or [...]

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    It’s the Helmeted water toad… this time, with information!

    C. gayi, drawn from a photo. Illustration by Darren Naish.

    Back in October 2007 (at Tet Zoo ver 2) I wrote a very brief article on a poorly known, gigantic, deeply weird South American frog: the Helmeted water toad, Chilean giant frog or Gay’s frog* Calyptocephalella gayi (long known – incorrectly it turns out – as Caudiverbera caudiverbera). Back in 2007, so little information was [...]

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    ‘Strange bedfellow frogs’ (part I): rotund, adorable brevicipitids

    Breviceps frogs are not exactly the ideal shape for normal amplexus. This is B. montanus. Photo by Abu Shawka, in the public domain.

    Suddenly and unexpectedly, I have the urge to write about frogs. Today we look briefly at the first of two behaviourally peculiar, anatomically surprising groups, both of which are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, both of which belong to a major neobatrachian frog clade called Allodapanura, and both of which have been united in a clade [...]

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    There is so much more to flying frogs than flying frogs

    Beautiful painting of Wallace's flying frog (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus) by the unique Carel Brest van Kampen.

    Episode 2 of David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies appeared on TV the other day, and I watched it (in fact, I livetweeted throughout, mostly because I wanted to talk about their portrayal of pterosaurs and Mesozoic theropods). And hence I have rhacophorid frogs on my mind – the mostly tropical Afro-Asian frog group that [...]

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